Euskaltel-Euskadi has signed Juan José Lobato from Andalucia for the next two seasons and his new team is expected to confirm no fewer than eight other arrivals in a press conference on Monday.
A former national road race champion at junior level, Lobato turned professional with Andalucia last season. In the current campaign, he has scored stage victories at the Tour of Chile and the Tour of Qinghai Lake.
Lobato had two years to run on his current deal with Andalucia, but although the team has financial concerns that may prevent it from competing at Pro Continental level in 2013, manager Antonio Cabello said that he allowed Lobato to leave without seeking compensation from Euskaltel.
“We couldn’t close the door on Juan José going to a top level team like Euskaltel,” Cabello told the EFE news agency.
Euskaltel-Euskadi’s own continuation at WorldTour level next season is yet to be decided, and the Basque outfit is understood to be competing with Lampre-ISD, Ag2r-La Mondiale and Argos-Shimano, among others, for the final slots in cycling’s elite division for 2013.
Since its foundation in 1994, only Basque riders or riders who have raced for Basque teams as amateurs have been permitted to ride for Euskaltel-Euskadi, but that policy is to undergo a radical change ahead of the 2013 campaign as the team bids to remain competitive at the highest level.
As well as Lobato, Biciciclismo reports that six foreign riders are set to be confirmed at Euskaltel-Euskadi on Monday. Slovenians Jure Kocjan (Team Type 1) and Robert Vrecer (Team Vorarlberg), Germans Steffen Radochla (Team NSP-Ghost) and André Schulze (Team NetApp), Russian Alexandr Serebryakov (Team Type 1) and Portuguese rider Ricardo Mestre (Carmim-Prio) are the new signings named by Biciciclismo.
Elsewhere, Ag2r-La Mondiale has announced the signings of Gediminas Bagdonas from An Post-Sean Kelly and Valentin Iglinskiy from Astana. Bagdonas has signed a two-year deal while Iglinskiy, the younger brother of Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner Maxim, has signed on for one year.